New PNG Gov Must Address Problematic Land Leases

 2013 Commission of Inquiry found that Special Agricultural Business Leases, under which about 12 percent of the country's land was leased out, amounted to a land grab

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, August 14, 2017) – An advocacy group in Papua New Guinea says the new government needs to finally address problematic land leases.

A 2013 Commission of Inquiry found that Special Agricultural Business Leases [SABLs], under which about 12 percent of the country's land was leased out, amounted to a land grab.

It said many were fraudulently obtained without landowner consent.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, who was re-elected last month, has promised to cancel the leases, but logging continues unabated in many areas.

A spokesman for Act Now, Eddie Tanago, said the government and the newly-sworn Forestry Minister Douglas Tomurisea must immediately address the issue.

"While promises have been made that the leases have been cancelled, the illegal logging has actually continued and is continuing as we speak and the leaseholders are currently on the land itself."

"We are calling on the minister to confirm that all the SABLs have been cancelled [and] logging in the SABL areas has been stopped."

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